With the Facebook squawk and Twitter squalor that has ignited over former premier Gordon Campbell’s nod to receive the prestigious Order of British Columbia, it might be time to change the voting procedure for such honours. After all, the OBC is awarded on behalf of the people of this province, so why don’t we get a say in who receives it?
Naturally, with voter turnout for such important decisions as the HST reversal, provincial and national elections hovering at or below the 50 per cent mark, only a few of us would ultimately be making that decision, but at least the recipients would have to prove their worth.
In Campbell’s case, some would argue, as the OBC judges — an advisory council of seven, including the chief justice of B.C., the legislature’s speaker and two past recipients — have done, that his public service is worthy of such an award. And that may be true, except every good deed has to be set on a scale and balanced — and bad deeds tend to weigh more heavily in the public’s eye than a private panel’s.
It also doesn’t help that people of privilege — political or otherwise — always tend to get a better break than regular joes. One of the best examples of this two-faced political pandering that a public vote would not put up with is the Order of Canada.
In 2009, Canada’s highest civilian honour was revoked from one-legged athlete Steve Fonyo because of multiple criminal convictions. Fonyo received the award for raising more than $13 million for cancer research. However, former newspaper mogul Conrad Black, who was originally convicted in the U.S. in 2007 of fraud and who renounced his Canadian citizenship in a huff a decade ago, continues to wear his award around his beefy neck.
If the public had to choose between Fonyo and Black, Conrad would be the first to have his medal stripped and forced to offer a public apology. This blatant favouritism reeks of an old-boys’ network whose time must come to an end. Social networking is just the beginning of this public revolution.
SONG STUCK IN MY HEAD
October Song: Bonnie Ste-Croix
For easy-listening, Canadian pride, you can’t go wrong with Bonnie Ste-Croix’s Canadian Girl. Having spent considerable time on both coasts, Ste-Croix gathers some of Canada’s best musicians and singers to contribute to a wonderful folk album that uniquely celebrates each province. “October Song” is B.C.’s entry and features such provincial talents as Shari Ulrich and her daughter, Julia Graff, plus Bill Buckingham, Robbie Steininger and Graeme Coleman. Vancouver’s Stephen Fearing also pops by. M